By Mark Ellis
As a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard he witnessed appalling human rights abuses that caused him to question his faith in Islam and the current regime. He became a CIA spy and later escaped to the West. His contacts on the ground in Tehran tell him Islam’s days are numbered there.
“Many have lost faith in Islam,” says Reza Khalili, a pseudonym taken by the ex-spy for safety reasons. “In the streets of Tehran, people are cursing at Mohammad,” he reports. “Millions wake up to text messages they send each other every day mocking the regime and the religion.”
Despite the stereotypes of Iran’s fundamentalist identity, Khalili says that many are surprisingly sympathetic to the West. “The majority of Iranians are westernized,” he maintains. “They are one of the most westernized countries in the region.”
Khalili says that before the 1979 revolution, those who adhered to Islam did so mostly for cultural reasons. Many were like his grandmother, who was a very loving person. “The older generation respected it because of what they learned from their parents,” he notes. “The younger generation respected it even though they didn’t adhere to it.”
Due to an enormous level of disillusionment with the course of their nation, a surprising number have turned their back on Islam. “Many in Iran are turning to Christianity underground,” Khalili reports.
Khalili himself became a Christian in the U.S. after watching the JESUS Film and exploring the Scripture with a friend.
His heart goes out to his brothers and sisters in Iran, who are paying a huge price if their Christian faith is discovered by the regime. He cites a report by a former intelligence officer in the Revolutionary Guard, who recently defected to Europe. “There is much torture and suffering the intelligence agencies are bringing upon the converts,” he notes.
Some of the techniques used against Christians reflect tortures of bygone centuries. “Some they keep them in underground holes in total darkness and only feed them every other day,” he reports. “They torture the prisoner’s families in front of them so they can get the names of others in Bible studies.”
The former intelligence officer reported that in the city of Shiraz alone there are 30,000 files at the intelligence headquarters on Christian converts.
Further, the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence has assigned units in major cities to infiltrate Christian groups, identify pastors and underground church members and make arrests.
Then they are forced under torture to agree to appear on TV confessing to criminal activities and having connection with Israel or America.
“The Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the burning of thousands of Bibles,” Khaili says. “He said the Bible is not a holy book, so it’s okay to burn them. Tens of thousands of Bibles have been burned and nobody talks about it.”
While thousands of people have lost their lives at the hands of the regime, Khalili sees a new day coming. “The only good news is that when the change comes, Islam will be gone from Persia like it had never entered the country,” he predicts. “This is the promise from our Lord, that once again He will establish Himself in Persia.”
Kahlili teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA), is a senior fellow with EMPact America and a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He is the author of “A Time to Betray,” a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “A Time to Betray” was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award. The book is set to become a movie.